home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


February 18, 2009

Vincent Johnson


MARK WILLIAMS: Vincent, thank you for joining us at the Northern Trust Open media center. Obviously the you're the inaugural recipient of the Charlie Sifford exemption, and you are looking fine and splendid in your suit and tie. Talk about receiving the exemption and what it means to you.
VINCENT JOHNSON: I think the biggest thing is it's just been a little surreal, this whole thing. You know, finding out that I was just a candidate, I was really honored, because of what Mr. Sifford stands for. And to receive it, you're like, things like this don't happen to me.
So, it's been an interesting ride, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the week.
MARK WILLIAMS: You played yesterday. Talk about your thoughts on the golf course and how it compares to some of the other courses you've played.
VINCENT JOHNSON: I played in a couple of U.S. Ams, so those were really difficult tests. And on this, it re minds me -- I played in Winged Foot and Olympic Club, and it's a fair test. You can get into some trouble, but it's scorable, as well.
I've seen it plenty of times on TV, so it's cool to finally get on the hole that you've seen for so many years.

Q. What was it like, you've thought about what it would be like to be out here with these guys; what's it been like? Have you talked to any of them or have you been starstruck by anybody?
VINCENT JOHNSON: Well, I told myself, I need to get over that pretty quick, because there's a hundred guys I could be awestruck about.
It's really cool to be hitting balls with guys that I'm still idolizing right now. But you know, just doing my own thing and trying to stick to my routine, because I still have a week of my own.

Q. Do you think Tiger is ducking you this week?

Q. Just curious when you came down and just how much you are trying to take in the week.
VINCENT JOHNSON: I came here over Sunday, and I think that's helped. Because if I would have perhaps got here Tuesday and played right away, perhaps I would be a little, you know -- I know I'm going to be nervous, but it just helped me settle in a little bit better.

Q. How much do you know about the history of this event, the great record in pushing minorities, and because of that, how significant is it to you to be making your debut here this week?
VINCENT JOHNSON: There's so many things about this week; the exemption itself and honouring Mr. Sifford is amazing. But at Riviera, I've known that it's been a great golf course and has had some great champions. And the guys I've talked to thus far say it's one of the top stops on TOUR, and to play such an historic course, I'm really excited.

Q. Have you had a chance to talk to Charlie about his experiences, and what have you learned from him in your chats maybe with him?
VINCENT JOHNSON: Just persevere. My struggle to hopefully get to the PGA TOUR one day won't be as difficult as his was, but you know, just you take inspiration on stories like that, and that you know, things are going to be difficult and things are going to be perhaps ugly at times.
But if you want something bad enough, just stick with it and soon enough, I think you'll achieve it.

Q. Who do you have caddying for you?
VINCENT JOHNSON: Alex Hernandez. He's a local caddie. They say he's the best caddie out here. So far, he's given me just great numbers. I'd be probably a club off every shot, and he's been right on. He's pretty popular around here. My goal is to get more popular than he is around here by the end of the week. (Laughter).
MARK WILLIAMS: Do you have some other goals for the tournament this week?
VINCENT JOHNSON: You know, just to compete. You don't know what to expect because I've never done a thing like this. I feel like I've been improving over the years, and I've been playing pro golf for all of, what, two months now. Things are getting better, and just see how I stack up and prepare for this course and see if I can execute.

Q. When you talk about the struggles to get to the PGA TOUR, what are some of the bigger obstacles you face?

Q. Yes.
VINCENT JOHNSON: This time, I think everyone is struggling with how the economy is. It's did you feel, because if you're looking for people to help out and give you a jump start with the game as far as sponsors go, those disposable dollars that people had, it's not really there right now.
But you know, just kind of getting out of the block, I think that's kind of the biggest challenge. My story on the Gateway and playing on the mini-tours, that's not very unique. Everyone on there is just trying to get by and trying to get here.

Q. You look very nice in your suit, by the way. We are used to it the guys coming in in their golf attire and polos and stuff. Can you talk about your decision to wear a suit today?
VINCENT JOHNSON: Well, we have the ceremony coming up, so I thought I would just get it on a little early and see if it fits okay.

Q. There's been so much discussion since Tiger turned pro, and everybody thought correctly or incorrectly that it would bring a lot of African Americans into golf, and obviously there have not been any, or one or two; can you answer any of the reasons, and do you feel any particular pressure to sort of, quote, be the next Tiger Woods, unquote?
VINCENT JOHNSON: Well, that's something that I'll never try to be Tiger, because there will never be another one.
But I'd say finances; it's an expensive game to play. My beginning, as I've reflected back, it makes me realise how I got started. My father worked at a golf course, and my mother had a job that allowed her to take me to tournaments. She could take some time off. Without those two, I would either have very little experience or I wouldn't have played at all.
So, you know, getting that access is something that is a necessity. So one thing that I've noticed with all of the African American players back in Charlie's era, they were all caddies, and caddies are not as prevalent. That's just not here anymore because of the carts, and it's just something that was such a part of the game, and that's how they got access. It was inexpensive and they got familiar with the game; so that's not here.
So you are not seeing as many minorities.

Q. Do you think an African American, a black teenager, is discouraged from golf because it's the white game, and when he looks at basketball, particularly, and maybe football and says, it's better for me to go there, or is it access?
VINCENT JOHNSON: I think it's mostly access, you know, because I mean -- I know I've been very fortunate. But with my upbringing, I've always felt welcome at the courses I've been to. You know, it is an access thing. You think about all of the costs that you have for golf: You have got the shoes, the clubs, green fees and all that; or, you can get a ball and go play.
Also my parents sacrificed a lot. I'm sure they could have found other occupations that paid better but they stuck with what they had and I'm sure that for parents who can't be as involved in their kids' lives; they were, and so if not, then you probably have to play another sport that isn't as intensive.

Q. Could you talk about your dad? Did he purposely go to work at a course so you could play?
VINCENT JOHNSON: Yeah, he loved golf growing up. He tells me about, I think when Casper beat out Palmer, he watched that U.S. Open. He always loved it and wanted to learn how to ply. I don't think he ever got too good at it -- but that's just bean you and I. (Laughter).
He just got us introduced to it. My mom actually was the one that took me out a ton early on. I'll just tell a quick story. I get really frustrated, sometimes a little emotional, depends on who is telling the story.
But when I was struggling, my mom would take me out and she would play, and she was horrible, so I would go out and I pummeled my mom and feel great and have a little swagger walking home and I would be excited to play again.
To my brother actually says, he wonders how if I would have kept with the game if my mom had not done that.

Q. This is when you were 18?

Q. Can you describe that course where you learned, and specifically, what your dad did?
VINCENT JOHNSON: Glendoveer Golf Course, it's in Portland. My dad is a mechanic. He still works there, so I still get to play for free when I go back home.
It has 36 holes, just a very public course, but it was a great place to learn how to play. It's a place where you can make a lot of birdies and I think that helped get me thinking, you know, to play aggressively, and it's just a great place to grow up playing the game.

Q. What does your dad do there?
VINCENT JOHNSON: Mechanic, fixing everything that they break.

Q. What was he doing before Glendoveer?
VINCENT JOHNSON: I think he worked at just a car lot working on cars.

Q. What's your mom do?
VINCENT JOHNSON: Works at M&T Mortgage Banking.
MARK WILLIAMS: I'd like to ask you a question. You were probably all of 10 or 11 when Tiger won the Masters in '97. Where were you, did you watch it, and what sort of influence did that have on you?
VINCENT JOHNSON: Yeah, I was watching that with my family. Everyone was just stuck to the television for that week.
But I had been playing the game for about four or five years, but seeing that, I think it inspired any golfer, but that really got me excited. It wasn't just his race, but just the fact that someone young dominated a field made me really excited to play the game of golf.

Q. Did you go to the U.S. Amateur?
VINCENT JOHNSON: Yeah, I actually got his autograph there. It was the practice round on the public side. I was walking from six green and there was a steep hill going down 7 and my brother said, "Just go up and get his autograph: I was scared if I asked, he would rip my head off, but he was the nicest guy and signed it and I still have the autograph.

Q. Where is it?
VINCENT JOHNSON: At home. Secret location.

Q. What did he sign?
VINCENT JOHNSON: Just the media guide or whatever with him on the front.
MARK WILLIAMS: Vincent, we appreciate you coming in, and all the best for the Northern Trust Open this week. Enjoy.

End of FastScripts

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297